Title: The Islands at the End of the World Author: Austin Aslan Series: Islands at the End of the World #1 Genre: Young Adult, SciFi Pages: 384 Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books Published: August 5th, 2014 Format Read: Audio Find It On:
Synopsis From Goodreads
Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I …
Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she’s an outsider – half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.
While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.
A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
My Rating: ☆☆☆
Before I get into this, I have to say that I would probably give this a two star rating had I read it and not listened to the audio book. There are a lot of long passages of Hawaiian language, and I think it would have detracted from the story had I been trying to read the text. When I see a word I don’t know in a book, I usually end up googling how to say it because it bugs me until I know. That being said, the audio book made all the Hawaiian words sound Beautiful! It pulled me into the story rather than bringing me out of it because I wasn’t struggling to read words I’d never heard before.
The plot was very original! We’ve seen stuff like this before: worldwide power outage, people panic, economy shuts down, government is obviously keeping a massive secret, there’s lots of fighting, and alien attacks and biblical prophecies come into play. However, The Islands at the End of the World does a really good job of putting a new spin on things. Because it’s set in Hawaii, we become amerced in a new culture that adds to the mystery. Austin Aslan does a fantastic job of pulling you into the Hawaiian world and making you believe in the culture, and then he throws a massive plot twist into the mix that creates an ending you’ll never expect.
Ok… Several of the characters seemed a little flat to me, (Leilani’s dad for instance), but Leilani kind of makes up for it. First of all, she has epilepsy, and it’s not one of those things where the character has a medical disorder just for the sake of having a medical disorder. It does cause a couple problems, and it is relevant to the plot. The only problem I have with it is that Leilani’s dad tends to have a… somewhat downplayed reaction when Lei has an epileptic seizure. There’s one point where she wakes up, and he’s just like, “Hi,” and I was left going “Shouldn’t you be a little more concerned that the world is in chaos and your daughter just had a horrible seizure?!” I personally have a disorder where my adrenals don’t work, and I’ve had some pretty bad seizures before, and my parents are not exactly cool, calm, and collected when I come out of it… I also question some of the language used when Lei has a seizure. It’s referred to as “fits” a few times, and I think I remember reading somewhere that that’s not accurate. Epileptics can feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong!
Why is this not a five star book?
•Several flat characters. •The thing with the Hawaiian language mentioned above. •Downplayed reaction to epileptic seizures. •Some awkward dialogue. •Possible incorrect medical language concerning epilepsy.
Why is this rated three stars?
•Hawaii makes for an interesting setting. •Cool new culture. •Epileptic character that isn’t just epileptic for the sake of being epileptic! •Original spin on an old plot. •Cool Hawaiian shaman people. •Hawaiian language sounds beautiful in the audio book. •An ending you’ll never expect!
I will be reading the second book as soon as I find it! I did point out a lot of flaws, but quite honestly I didn’t notice those until I started taking notes for this review. The writing pulled me in, and held my attention until the end.
Share your thoughts?
Have you read The Islands at the End of the World? Do you want to read it? What are your thoughts on the use of foreign language in books and characters with medical disorders? Let’s chat in comments!